[Warning to you, the reader! :) I probably could have made this article much shorter, but when I first wrote this, I added in all the little details and things for me, an avid Bible Bee-er. So, you may or may not appriciate them all, depending on if you are part of the NBB or not. So please, bear with me, and I hope you enjoy the third and final installment my 2015 BB series. :) ]
I squeezed my hands together in anticipation. The moment had come! I watched another young lady walking down the aisle to receive her medal. I was next to go up, and how excited I was! I glanced up at the stage, where a group of Senior Bible Bee contestants were already forming on the stairs. I couldn’t wait to join them!
Lights were flashing and the entire crowd was clapping. I took a deep breath and glanced over at the person in charge, waiting for the signal. Next thing I knew, she smiled at me and pointed down the aisle. “Go ahead, Congratulations!”
|National Bible Bee 2015 - Senior Qualifiers!|
A big smile formed on my face. Amidst the exciting cheering of the crowd, I took one step forward, then another, and another, continuing to walk towards the brightly lit stage. I treasured each step in my heart, because I knew this was my final time walking this aisle to receive my final Bible Bee medal. So many thoughts were going through my head. All those months studying were completely worth it for this moment! I’m so excited! Thank You, Jesus! Oh, the camera is on me, I’m on the big screen! I wonder if I will make the top 15 and go to semis? Thank you so much, Father, for allowing me to be here! I’m so happy!
I neared the end of the long aisle, and paused until Mr. Zwyane motioned for me to come forward. My stomach fluttered in excitement as the red and gold medal was placed around my neck and I shook his hand. The weight of my new Bible Bee medal rested against my chest and I happily smiled for the camera.
I joined the other Senior contestants on the stage, and began to clap and cheer for the others. Everyone had done such a wonderful job studying and memorizing God’s Word that summer and fall, and I was so proud for all the wonderful young people who stood on the stage with me. My happiness increased as I realize I was standing beside one of my dear friends. We smiled at each other and looked at each other’s medals. Tears welled up in my eyes as I cherished the moment. The bright lights shone on my wet eyelids and I could hardly make out the crowd we were in front of.
I watched as other contestants, including many of my friends, walk up to also receive their medal and join us on stage. I had memorized over a thousand verses to get to this moment, and I was hoping and praying I would be one of the top fifteen contestants who would qualify for the semi-final round.
Before I knew it, each one of the one hundred and twenty Senior Bible Bee contestants had joined us on the stage, each with a brand new, shiny medal around their neck. Waves of energized cheering met my ears and everyone clapped, even though our hands were getting numb. I had been smiling for so long my cheeks were beginning to hurt, but I couldn’t stop smiling. I looked over at my friend and we laughed for joy. Everyone smiled again as group pictures of the contestants were snapped, and then, a voice broke through the electrifying cheers.
“At this moment, we are going to announce our 2015 Senior Semi-finalists.”
My heart skipped a beat and then began to beat rapidly, faster and louder. This was the moment. The moment I had dreamed about, prayed about, and hoped for. Would my name be called, making my dreams a reality? A hush spread across the room. Everyone was literally on the edge of their seats. Or, in my case, on the edge of the step I was standing on.
The first name pounded in my ears. It wasn’t mine. A shout of excitement went up from the contestants and crowd, and a young man made his way to the front. It died down again to silence and everyone held their breath for the next name.
|The joy and exciting for each other is so thrilling! ^_^|
My eyes grew moist as I heard the next name. The pressure was too great! Again, it wasn’t mine. With baited breath, we all listened as each name was called. Many of the names were those belonging to very dear friends of mine, and I was so very excited for them! Happy tears sprang to my eyes when I heard the name of my friend who was standing next to me. Her face was priceless, and although unable to, I wanted to wrap my arms around her in a congratulatory hug. She had made semi-finals! Hooray!
As the final name of those who qualified for semi-finals was called, the cheers again continued and grew louder. I wiped my eyes and glanced up at the flashing lights. The full reality that my name was not called began to sink in as I watched the fifteen below hug each other for joy, and then line up again for more pictures. I’m not a semi-finalist. My Bible Bee journey is over for…ever. I am now…an alumni. My heart both pounded excitedly for my dear friends who had qualified for semis, but also felt heavy with disappointment. I smiled with the other contestants for a few more pictures.
“Congratulations to all of you!” Mr. Zwyane’s voice cut through the clapping. “May the semi-finalists please remain standing, and the rest of you re-join your families. God bless you all.” He nodded happily and began to clap again.
The remaining one hundred and five contestants, including myself, descended the stairs, and I found myself locked in a tight embrace from one of my dear friends. She had known my desire for semis, and was sad I had not advanced with her. We reluctantly released each other and I walked back to my seat, where my dad and sister were. They congratulated and comforted me. I knew they were also disappointed I had not made it, but were supportive of me nonetheless.
We watched as the top fifteen lined the stairs for more pictures. Watching their happiness was a thrill and joy to me, but my heart also felt like lead. I couldn’t hold back the torrents that tempted to flow any longer, so I quickly grabbed a tissue from my bag and wiped my eyes. All the momentum and adrenaline from the past several hours was wearing on me, and now the climax which had crumbled down was too much.
|These fifteen amazing young people inspire me so much!|
Why? Why did it have to end this way? God, please help me. You know what my heart’s desire was and You know how I asked You to make this dream a reality in my life. But why did You say no? I twisted the tissue in my hands as if I was squeezing the life out of it. I asked You to give me strength and You did, but why did You not allow me to make semis? Oh Jesus, help me! Why?
And even as I asked these questions, a quiet voice spoke to my heart.
Didn’t you want to glorify me?
My mind flew back to that morning, when I was reading my Bible and praying before I went downstairs to take my tests. One of the verses I had read was John 12:28, which had this phrase in it.
“Father, glorify Thy name.”
I prayed those words to Jesus, asking that whatever would happen that day; during the testing, the Opening Ceremony, and the outcome of it, that I would glorify Him and His name would be lifted up.
Now was my chance to do just that.
I wiped my eyes again. Again, the question was whispered in my heart. Are you going to glorify Me?
God, You want me to glorify you with this competition. So I’m going to thank You. I thank You for the amazing Bible Bee year I’ve had, and for allowing me to qualify for Nationals and memorize all these verses perfectly. I praise You for working out all the details so we could travel to San Antonio and be here for the amazing event. Thank you for being with me during the testing today and letting me get almost 94% on the test. And in oral rounds, I don’t know of any mistakes I made. Thank you. You are the one who gave me strength for this race.
I could feel the weight in my chest lifting and even more joy than had been there before was taking its place.
You are good, Father. You know best. Help me to rest in Your love and not feel depressed about not making the semi-finals as I had dreamed. Instead, let me rejoice with the others that made it and be a source of encouragement to them. Thank you, dear Jesus, for everything. Just help me to glorify You.
My tissue made its way to my eyes once more. I continued to ask the Lord to help me to not be selfish or jealous, but to be completely excited for the semi-finalists.
I looked up toward the stage, where Mr Upton was making his closing remarks; a smile spreading across my face, I fingered the tissue which was now quite worn out.
It was worth it. No, I didn’t make semis, but I’m okay. It was so, so worth it. And I’m happy…look at all my dear friends and their joy! I can’t wait to congratulate them.”
I glanced back over my shoulder and looked at a friend who was sitting with her family. Happiness was written all over her face. I was so proud of her for making semis. I turned my attention back to the stage, where Mr. E.Z. was asking the audience to bow their heads for closing prayer.
After the Amen and dismissal, I stood up and immediately found myself in another huge hug from my friend. We found another group of our good friends and I remember congratulating them all. But I didn’t get far in doing so, for they all begin to console me, because they knew my dream had been shattered. My eyes grew wet again as each of them wrapped their arms around me in turn. These were some of my dearest friends…we shared our hopes and goals with each other. The unity of spirit between us was something I have not found in many other friends. We had a beautiful time visiting after the Opening Ceremony, sharing what God had done that evening, and playing games.
It had to have been past 11 pm when I finally made my way back up to our hotel room. I pulled my journal out and scribbled down what had happened that day. So many things had taken place it was hard to summarize it. Near the end of the entry, I penned these words.
“I believe God was glorified!”
And looking back, all I can say is this. To God be the Glory, great things He has done! Yes, He did marvelous things and His power was shown that week. He had higher plans and thoughts for me, and it was still so beautiful. That week was one of the best weeks of my life…the unity of Jesus among the contestants was encouraging, and the Lord was magnified through the competition. Friendships were deepened and goodbyes were hard. And even though I didn't make semis, that wasn't what mattered. What truly mattered was that my relationship with Jesus deepened and because I studied His Word, I was a winner, even though I did not rank in the top 15 or top 5. I can still say with all my heart, that yes...
…It was completely worth it.
…It was completely worth it.